NEW VIENNA — Like many schools, the number of absences at East Clinton has escalated during January, with last week especially difficult.
In fact, last Friday, Jan. 14 was declared a calamity day and school was cancelled when there were not enough substitutes to cover staff who were out. About 25 staff members were out last Thursday, reported EC Supt. Eric Magee.
In addition, 19 percent of students district-wide were absent that Thursday, with Sabina Elementary posting the highest rate at about 25 percent of students out.
With the cancellation on Friday and Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday and weather on Tuesday helping out some, the five-day weekend served to provide time away to help clear out some quarantines, the superintendent said.
Coming back Wednesday after five days off, the student absentee rate had improved to 13 percent district-wide.
“Hopefully numbers continue to trend downward for us,” Magee said Wednesday night.
“The conversations I’ve had with the health department is countywide the [COVID-19] numbers are not trending downward just yet. They’re still going upward. Hopefully we’ve reached our peak,” said the superintendent.
The EC district has a maximum of seven calamity days it can declare. If that is surpassed, East Clinton would then begin a remote learning plan with Chromebooks or another suitable device for all students grades 1-12. Kindergarten students have a tablet device.
Also at Wednesday’s school board meeting, which was held at New Vienna Elementary, the superintendent reported a “glitch in the renovations” being performed at the New Vienna and Sabina elementary buildings.
A roofing subcontractor used the wrong type of nails on the roofs, said Magee. They used galvanized nails instead of stainless steel nails which were called for in the construction documents.
The stainless steel nails — which are more expensive than galvanized — have a life expectancy of 50 years, whereas the galvanized nails can start having problems in much less time, the superintendent said.
The life expectancy of the roofing material being used is 50 years, said Magee.
The parties are having discussions how to rectify the situation, but the superintendent doesn’t see a solution that will take care of the problem other than “to take it off and start again,” likely in the spring.
On a renovations positive note, school officials are pleased with the heating generated by each elementary building’s two new boilers which run alternately. Magee and board member Dr. Robert Carey described them as state of the art, and Carey, while seated in the NV Elementary media center, said it is a “lot more comfortable here than it ever has been.”
In high school Principal Michael Adams’ report to the board of education, he said current sophomores have the opportunity next week to visit Laurel Oaks where they can see various career-oriented options they can pursue as well as doing education in a different way.
He said some people have a misconception that choosing the Oaks option rules out going to college later.
“You have students who go there who end up going to college as well,” Adams said.
An after-school Art Club is averaging about 30 high and middle school students, he reported. They’ve made Christmas ornaments, decorated sidewalks around the beginning of the school year, and done special-effects makeup.
ECHS students are already practicing for their upcoming production of the musical “Newsies” at the Murphy Theatre, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, March 4 and 5. “Newsies” is inspired by the real-life newsboys strike of 1899 in New York City.
High school social studies teacher Bruce Warren is retiring at the end of the school year.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.